SNP settle for time-limited, no-strings-attached fracking moratorium, while Labour MPs force real government U-turn
It has been forced to put into law conditions to ensure that no extraction can take place until the regulations are overhauled.
Glasgow South MP Tom Harris said: “Labour proposed an amendment to stop fracking unless a series of tough conditions are first met. At the last minute, and knowing that they were about to be defeated by Labour and their own backbenchers, the government accepted Labour’s amendment. This now means these robust regulatory conditions and protections are now in the Bill, and if it receives Royal Assent will become law.
“This is a significant defeat for the government, and stops the irresponsible approach the Tories had been taking to shale gas, and the focus will now be on ensuring that the landscape, water supplies and communities are given stronger protections and standards to be met. Labour has argued since March 2012 that fracking can only go ahead with robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and local consent.
“This is also a more comprehensive and responsible approach than our opponents in the SNP, who voted for a simple time-limited moratorium with no conditions attached. Their approach is clearly all about quick press releases and soundbites, not about making a real difference in people’s lives.
“Provisions within our amendment was supported by a number of bodies, including the National Trust, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, Local Government Association, Unite and GMB trade unions.
“In Scotland, the Scottish government already has responsibility for planning and environmental permitting. This gives the Scottish government an effective veto of any activity in Scotland, although they have yet to confirm how – or if – they intend to use their powers in relation to fracking developments in Scotland. Separately, having accepted a Labour amendment, there will be no changes to rights to underground access in Scotland unless the Scottish government chooses to make them. This power, in line with the Smith Agreement, has now effectively been devolved.
“Scottish Labour have set out our policy in Scotland, which includes a triple lock of a tough baseline study, learning from fracking experience elsewhere in the UK, and a final, conclusive, vote of local communities to endorse any application granted permission for fracking. It is now up to the Scottish government to set out their approach to using their powers on this matter in Scotland.”